These plants were at the outer edge of a neighbor’s property, so I could stay on the sidewalk and still get pictures. Almost immediately, a woman popped her head out the front door and asked me what I was doing. Her tone seemed accusing. I guess my crouching near her garden area looked suspicious. We ended up having a pleasant, socially distanced talk for several minutes about the columbines. She told me she had transported them some distance from her late father’s property, and she was pleased they handled the move and were thriving. She had several varieties, and the shaded area was lovely. Her story somehow made it all lovelier.

a flower for your friday

~ a flower for your friday ~

Maybe a cold, snowy February slowed up spring. I returned yesterday to a path I don’t often visit, and though it was already a few days into March, I found no evidence there will be flowers in that area any time soon. So Friday’s flower this week is from last year at this time.

There was plenty of sunshine yesterday (yah!), and no one on the path but me and a few birds (yah!). It felt like pre-covid! I saw a robin, a woodpecker, a couple of towhees, and a cardinal pair singing to each other and playing some version of cardinal tag. They seemed oblivious to me. The songs weren’t long or complicated, but sweet sounding nonetheless. One or the other cardinal, perched on a low branch, would sing a few notes, and then they’d fly off together, to another tree, to another branch. Over and over.

Enjoy your weekend.


Sitting at my desk this morning, trying to come up with a title for these pictures, I detected movement outside the window, up in the trees. Some sort of impressive bird. It was large, though not as big as the bigger hawks. The bird was mostly black, but as it flew higher I could see white underneath the wings. Such a beautiful wing span. It landed on a tree in my neighbor’s yard, and I thought it was some kind of woodpecker. My eyes drifted to the left, and halfway up a tree in my backyard was another bird, this one close enough for me to identify as a pileated woodpecker. This is only the fourth time I’ve seen pileated woodpeckers, and they never, ever fail to impress me … immensely. A great reminder, first thing in the morning, however weighty the problems of the world seem, there’s still so much that’s wonderful.

the catbirds

It was a busy bird morning. Two catbirds (not the ones pictured) were engaged in some sort of territorial battle, and they apparently knew the rules of engagement well.

Catbirds are noisy if you have them around, and I’m used to hearing their calls. It can be like a strange white noise. You tune it out. So the first thing I noticed was two birds circling the property over and over. Once I started paying attention, I realized there was a protocol. It started with a squawking session…two gray birds perched on branches not far from each other. Then one took off after the other, and the chasing began. Over the house to the front yard, then back again to circle around to an area just past my backyard. Some dodging and looping back there, and then back again to the front. And back again. They didn’t dive bomb or physically attack each other the way robins do, but they were persistent.

The catbirds flew under the canopy, and I wondered if they might fly into a tree trunk. With all the branches and leaves, it took some quick reflexes and agile maneuvering to avoid obstacles. A little like Top Gun.

After a few minutes, I guess they got tired, and stopped to rest. Like, “Timeout!” Again, they perched on separate branches, and started up the the dueling cat calls. A stand-off? Oh no. After a minute of squawking, they took off and it started over again. They did this over and over.

Eventually it just ended. The birds seemed okay, and neither seemed to sustain injuries. I’ve seen the robins battle, and I don’t think they quit until somebody’s feathers are ruffled.

photograph from 2014


thanks for visiting clover & ivy

a flower for your friday

~ a flower for your friday ~
photographed 6/6/20

I saw the first firefly last night. And the second and third and fourth. The first fireflies are like the first roses. They bring the full energy of the season. The sky was a matte grey white cloud behind the dark full foliage tops of the trees. But here and there, a bright sparkle lit up in the open air and around the trees. Even better, a left to right trail of on and off lights flickered across my field of vision.

It’s June, and tomorrow’s Friday. Have a great weekend.

a flower for your friday

~ a flower for your friday ~
photographed 4/1/20

The primrose,
almost crowded out by the others,
by the hostas and ferns and hydrangea.
I planted these flowers probably 20 years ago,
and they return every spring, good years and bad years.
They’re not showy or demanding,
but they’re fresh and they’re earthy,
they’re compact, textured, tactile.
Come springtime, they hold their own.

Thanks for visiting clover & ivy.


photographed 3/18/20

Life is crazy now. Most of us, I think, are doing our best to be responsible and safe. To stay sane. Posting wildflower pictures feels a bit silly, like a disconnect with the realities of the situation. Nevertheless, I’ve got to work with what I’ve got.

Tall trees along the walking trail are bare, still winter-like. On a sunny day the bright light shines through unfiltered, throwing long shadows below. Everything close to the ground, though, the shrubs and small plants, is greening up, with sprouts growing bigger each day. And in so many spots, small flowers line the black top paths and extend in wide patches out into the woods. Maybe this is their time. The ground is warm enough, the day is long enough, and there’s nothing to stop the March sun from reaching them.

It’s different now. There are many more walkers. Not crowds of people, but more than normal. A lot of individual walkers or hikers. Kids on bicycles. Whole families walking. It seems safe enough. There’s plenty of space and open air.

For now, it’s reality.

thanks for visiting
clover & ivy

burning bush

photographed 11/27/19

At nesting time, the burning bush is full of activity.
Nearly every year, cat birds nest there.
The gray birds have some of the nastiest cat calls,
and the longest and prettiest songs, you’ll hear.
Humming birds dive bomb battle outside the shrub, staking their claim
for the right to perch on a branch there. And all the birds use it
as the official feather fluffing spot after a bath. When it comes to fluffing off,
there seems to be a widely accepted practical agreement about the need to share.

But soon,
soon the branches will be bare, and a berth for the hardy ones,
the ones that hunker down and winter over. Cardinals, blue jays, sparrows.
They’ll hang out there on the leafless branches and shiver their way
through the biting cold, and the wind, and the snow, this winter.

And so goes the burning bush.

c & i